United States authorities have arrested a Cameroonian, Fodje Bobga, for allegedly defrauding people with puppies.
According to the Justice Department, the 27-year-old university student exploited the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic to scam people into buying puppies which didn’t exist.
Bobga, a university student in Romania in the city of Cluj, was charged in the U.S. city of Pittsburgh with conspiracy to commit wire fraud, forging a seal of the US Supreme Court and aggravated identity theft.
The website used in the alleged scheme, www.lovelyhappypuppy.com, has been deleted, the department said.
The authorities accuse him of exploiting the social isolation during Covid-19 pandemic to defraud victims using photos of cute puppies.
“The dog adoption market can be a breeding ground for catfish schemes. Fodje Bogda and his co-conspirators exploited a national pandemic — and the social isolation it engendered — to exploit victims with photos of cute puppies and to bilk extra costs under the pretense of COVID,” said U.S. Attorney Scott W. Brady for the Western District of Pennsylvania.
“With the holiday season upon us, and the desire for companionship higher than ever, don’t fall prey to scammers selling pets online: do your research and verify.”
According to reports that one of the victims include a woman in Pennsylvania, who was conned out of more than $9,000 (£6,700) trying to secure a mini-dachshund puppy for her mother.
Another victim lost $1,500 attempting to purchase a teacup Chihuahua named Bentley.
“Unfortunately, the pandemic has created the perfect condition for unscrupulous pet sellers to thrive,” said FBI Pittsburgh Special Agent in Charge Michael Christman.
“This suspect exploited this website to sell puppies and capitalized on people looking for companion animals online during this difficult time. The FBI has a long arm and an even longer reach and no matter where these scammers are, we will stop at nothing to make sure they don’t get away with victimizing American citizens.”
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